DEBTS to VIVISECTION
WILLIAM W. KEEK, A.M., M. D.,
Professor of Surgery, Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania.
[Reprinted from The Popular Science Monthly, May, 1885.]
. PORTER AND COATES,
DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
THE ADDRESS TO THE GRADUATES
WOMAN'S MEDICAL COLLEGE OF PENNSYLVANIA,
MARCH 11, 1885.
WILLIAM W. KEEN, A.M., M. D.,
PROFESSOR OF SURGERY.
Reprinted from ''The Popular Science Monthly," .May, 1885,
by request of the class.
PORTER & COATES
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
LADIES : It is my happy privilege to congratulate you on the com-
pletion of your three years of preliminary study, and on your
merited reward in receiving the degi-ee of Doctor of Medicine from
the oldest and largest medical college for women in the world.
By this degree you are permitted to enter the ranks of one of the
most ancient, honorable, and laborious professions. With it you as-
sume certain valued privileges, and have cast upon you certain weighty
duties. Both the privileges and the duties will exact from you all the
intelligence, skill, tact, and faithfulness which you possess.
You will observe that I said a moment since you had finished your
"preliminary" studies; for your first and most pressing duty after
graduation, and one for which happily you will at first have ample
time, is to continue your medical studies. I do not say complete them,
for, be your lives even prolonged far past the allotted threescore and
ten, instant, constant, intense study is the imperative condition of the
right kind of success. You know very little now. Happy both you and
your patients, if even with gray hairs comes ever-growing knowledge.
But you have other duties than those to self — you have great duties
to the communities in which you will live. Women especially will not
only look to you in times of peril, whether in childbirth or sickness or
accident, but also for guidance in that greatest duty and privilege — the
prevention rather than the cure of disease. This is the glory of our
times and the magnificent duty of our profession, that by enlightened
care and wise instruction we can prevent much of the sickness and
sorrow of the race, and bid back the Angel of Death.
Hygiene — well named after Hygeia, the goddess of good health —
must be one of your principal future studies, and its lessons ever on
your lips ; line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little ; and there
a great deal. The greatest need of our College to-day is a Professor-
ship of Hygiene. Would that in this vast audience some one could
be found who would endow such a chair in the Woman's Medical Col-
lege of Pennsylvania !
4 OUR REGENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
You must also direct public opinion, arid especially the opinion of
your own sex, in reference to medical questions ; for your information
and studies will fit you to be their instructors in all such technical
It is to one of these medical issues of the day that I purpose to
direct your attention at present — one as to which intense feeling, espe-
cially among women, has been aroused — viz., the question of experi-
ments upon animals.
Epithets and invective have been freely used, but, as befits the audi-
ence and the occasion, I shall endeavor to approach it in a perfectly
calm and fair spirit, seeking to lay before you only one aspect of a
many-sided question, viz., the actual practical benefits it has conferred
upon man and animals — a fact that is constantly denied, but which
medical evidence proves to be incontestable.
I shall not consider the important older discoveries it has given us,
but only those since 1850, almost all of which are within my own per-
sonal recollection. Even of these I must omit nearly all of its con-
tributions to physiology and to pathology, though so much of our
practice is based upon these, and confine myself to the advances it has
enabled us to make in medical and surgical practice. I shall endeavor
to state its claims with moderation, for an extravagant claim always
produces a revulsion against the claimant, and is as unwise as it is
Again, it must be borne in mind that, as in nearly every other ad-
vance in civilization and in society, so in medicine, causes are 1'arely
single, but generally multiple and interwoven. While vivisection has
been a most potent factor in medical progress, it is only one of several
factors the disentanglement of which and the exact balancing of bow
much is due to this or to that are often difficult and sometimes impos-
sible. Let me add one word more. All that I may say is purely upon
my own responsibility. I commit the opinion of no one else to any
view or any statement of fact.
Medicine in the future must either grow worse, stand still, or grow
To grow worse, we must forget our present knowledge — happily,
an inconceivable idea.
To stand still, we must accept our present knowledge as a finality,
complacently pursuing the well-worn paths ; neither hoping nor trying
for anything better — happily, again, an impossibility.
To grow better, we must try new methods, give new drugs, per-
form new operations, or perform old ones in new ways ; that is to say,
we must make experiments. To these experiments there must be a
beginning : they must be tried first on some living body, for it is
often forgotten that the dead body can only teach manual dexterity.
They must then be tried either on an animal or on you. Which shall
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 5
it be ? In many cases, of course, which involve little or no risk to life
or health, it is perfectly legitimate to test probable improvements on
man first, although one cf the gravest and most frequent charges
made against us doctors is that we are experimenting upon our pa-
But in many cases they involve great risk to life or health. Here
they can not, nay, they must not, be tested first upon man. Must we,
then, absolutely forego them, no matter how much of promise for life
and health and happiness they possess ? If not, the only alternative we
have is to try them on the lower animals, and we would be most unwise,
nay, more, we would be cruel, cruel both to man and to animals, if we
refused to pain or even to slay a few animals, that thousands, both of
men and of animals, might live.
Who would think it right to put a few drops of the hydrochlorate
of cocaine (a year ago almost an unknown drug) into the eye of a man,
riot knowing what frightful inflammation or even loss of sight might
follow ? Had one dared to do it, and had the result been disastrous,
would not the law have held him guilty and punished him severely,
and all of us said Amen ? But so did Christison with Calabar bean,
and well-nigh lost his own life. So did Toynbee with prussic acid on
himself, and was found dead in his laboratory.* Accordingly, Roller,
* I add the following striking extract from a speech in defense of vivisection, on
April 4, 18S3, by Sir Lyon Playfair, deputy Speaker of the House of Commons — no mean
authority. The italics arc my own :
" For myself, although formerly a professor of chemistry in the greatest medical
school of this country, I am only responsible for the death of two rabbits by poison, and
I ask the attention of the House to the case as a strong justification for experiments on
animals, and yet I should have been treated as a criminal under the present act had it then
•existed. Sir James Simpson, who introduced chloroform — that great alleviator of animal
suffering — was then alive and in constant quest of new anaesthetics. lie came to my
laboratory one day to see if I had any new substances likely to suit his purpose. I
showed him a liquid which had just been discovered by one of my assistants, and Sir
James Simpson, who was bold to rashness in experimenting on himself, desired immedi-
ately to inhale it in my private room. I refused to give him any of the liquid unless it
•was first tried upon labbits. Two rabbits were accordingly made to inhale it; they
quickly passed into anaesthesia and apparently as quickly recovered, but from an after-
action of the poison they both died a few hours afterward. Now, was not this a justifi-
able experiment upon animals ? Was not the sacrifice of two rabbits north saving the life
of the most distinguished physician of Ids lime ? . . . Would that an experiment of a like'
kind on a rabbit or a Guinea-pig had been used by John Hunter, who probably shortened
his own noble life by experimenting on himself! . . .
"Let mo give one other instance. ... A few years ago two young German chemists
were assistants in a London laboratory. They were experimenting upon a poison which I
wili not even name, for its properties are so terrible. It is postponed in its action, and
then produces idiocy or death. A experiment on a mouse or a rabbit would have taught
them the danger of this frightful poison ; but, in ignorance of its subtle properties, they
became its unhappy victims, for one died and the other suffered intellectual death. Yet
the promoters of this bill would not suffer us to make any experiments on the lower ani-
mals so as to protect man from such catastrophes. It is by experiments on animals that
6 OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
of Vienna, properly and wisely tried cocaine first on animals,* and then,
finding its beneficial effects, tried it upon man with like results, and
one of the most remarkable drugs of modern times was thus made
available. We are only on the threshold of its usefulness. It has
been used in the eye, the ear, the nose, the mouth, the larynx and all
other mucous membranes, in the removal of tumors, and as an internal
medicine. When its physiological action has been still more thor-
oughly and systematically investigated, its poisonous dose ascertained,
when we know how it works, what its effects are upon the blood-press-
ure, the heart, the nerves, the blood-vessels — effects that can not be
accurately studied upon man — its usefulness may be increased to an
extent as yet but little dreamed of. Should it only soothe the last
painful hours of our great hero, General Grant, a nation will bless it
and the experiments which gave it effect. Moreover, had the experi-
ments of Dr. Isaac Ott, of Easton, f on this very drug, borne their due
fruit, America would have had the honor and the human race the bene-
fits of cocaine ten years ago — ten years of needless suffering !
This is but one illustration of the value of experiments upon ani-
mals in the realm of new drugs. In fact, substitute for cocaine other
drugs, or new operations, or new methods of medical ti'eatment, and
the argument repeats itself for each. Within the last thirty years a
multitude of new drugs have thus been discovered, and their effects
have been either' first tested upon animals, or their properties studied
exhaustively in a manner impracticable upon man. I will only enu-
merate some of them, since time will not allow me to enter upon each in
detail. Thus have been introduced lily-of-the-valley in heart-disease,
yellow jasmine, in diseases of the heart and nervous system, paralde-
hyde and chloral-hydrate, so valuable for sleep, caffeine for headache,
eucalyptus as an antiseptic and in medicine, nitro-glycerine for nervous
maladies, Calabar bean for diseases of the eye and nervous system,
naphthaline and iodoform in surgery, quebracho as an antispasmodic,
antipyrin and kairin in fever, jaborandi in dropsy, salicylic acid in
rheumatism, nitrite of amyl in epilepsy and intermittent fever, jequir-
ity in ophthalmic surgery, piscidia as a substitute for opium, the hypo-
dermic method of usino- drills, and so on through a loner list. And,
as to the old drugs, it may be truly said that we have little exact, that
is scientific, knowledge of any one except through experiments upon
medicine has learned the benefits, but also has been taught to avoid the dangers of many
potent drugs — as chloroform, chloral, and morphia."
* "Archives of Ophthalmology," September and December, 1884, p. 402, New York,
f Ott, " Cocain, Veratrin, and Gelscmium," Philadelphia, 1874.
% For three hundred years digitalis, for instance, has been given as a depressant of
the heart, and, when a student, I was taught to avoid it carefully when the heart was
weak. But the accurate experiments of Bernard and others have shown that it is, on the
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 7
Let us see now something of what America has done in advancing
practical medicine by vivisection. In passing, I may say that the
assei'tion that America has contributed but little, so far from being an
argument for the restriction of vivisection, is a strong argument for
its further cultivation, in order that greater good may result from
remarkable discoveries here, equal to those that I shall shoAv have
been made in Europe.
Wounds of the abdomen, especially gunshot-wounds, are among
the most fatal injuries known to surgery. A small, innocent-looking,
external pistol-wound may cover multiple and almost inevitably fatal
perforations of the abdominal contents. The recoveries from 3,717
such wounds during the late civil war only numbered 444, and of
those with escape of the intestinal contents the recoveries, says Otis,
may be counted on one's fingers. The prevailing treatment as laid down
in our text-books has been purely conservative, treating symptoms as
they arise. The brilliant results achieved in other abdominal opei'a-
tions have led a few bold spirits, such as our own Sims, Gross, Otis,
McGuire, and others, to advocate the opening of the abdomen and the
repair of the injuries found.
In May of last year, Parkes, of Chicago, reported to the American
Medical Association * a series of systematic experiments on thirty-seven
dogs, that were etherized, then shot, the abdomen opened, and the
wounds of the intestines, arteries, mesentery, etc., treated by appro-
priate surgical methods. The results confirmed the belief awakened
by earlier experiments and observations that surgery could grapple
successfully with multiple and formidable wounds, by sewing them
up in various ways, or even by removing a piece of the boAvel and
uniting the cut ends. Hard upon the heels of this important paper,
and largely as its result, comes a striking improvement in practice.
And remember, that this is only the first fruit of a rich harvest for
future time, in all countries, in peace and in war.
November 2d, of last year, a man was brought to the Chambers
Street Hospital, in New York, with a pistol-shot wound in the abdo-
men. Under careful antiseptic precautions, and following the indica-
■contrary, actually a heart tonic and stimulant. So long as I live I shall never forget the
intense joy of myself and the agonized parents, when one bright young life was brought
back from the very grave, some five years ago, by the knowledge of this fact, and this is
but one of many such cases. Thus have the action and dangers of our common anaesthet-
ics been positively and accurately ascertained ; thus the action of ergot on the blood-
vessels, explaining alike its danger as an article of food and its wonderful use in certain
tumors of the uterus and diseases of the nervous centers ; thus, too, every one who gives
opium in its various forms is a debtor to Bernard, and every one who gives strychnine a
disciple of Magendie.
* "Medical News," May 17, 1S84. I shall refer readers frequently to this journal, as
it is often more accessible than foreign journals, and it will refer them to the original,
8 OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
tions of Partes, the abdomen was opened by Dr. Bull,* coil after coil
of the intestines was drawn out, the bullet was found and removed,,
and seven wounds of the intestines were successively discovered and
properly treated, and the patient made an uninterrupted recovery. A
recovery, after so many wounds, any one of which would necessarily
have been fatal under the old methods of treatment, shows that we
have now entered upon a proper and successful method of treatment
for such frightful accidents.
This is but one of the remarkable achievements of late years in
abdominal surgery. The spleen has been removed, part of the stom-
ach has been cut out for cancer, part of the bladder has been dissected
away, the entire gall-bladder has been removed, and several inches of
the intestine have been cut out, all with the most remarkable success.
To all of these, experiments upon animals have either led the way, or
have taught us better methods. To recite each in detail would oc-
cupy too much time, but one illustration I must not omit, for the
improvement, produced by it and other experiments, affects every
abdominal operation. When I was a student, the peritonaeum was-
avoided by knife and needle wherever possible. After the death of
his fourth case of ovariotomy, Mr. (now Sir Spencer) Wells, f in making
the post-mortem, was led to believe that the then received treatment
of the peritonaeum was incorrect, and that he ought to bring its sur-
faces in contact in order to obtain secure union. Accordingly, instead
of testing his ideas upon women, he experimented upon a few dogs,,
and found that his suspicions were correct. Since then it has been
accepted as a cardinal point in all abdominal operations. Following
this came improvements in the ligatures used, in the method of treat-
ing the pedicle, in the use of antiseptics, etc., all more or less the
result of experiments upon animals, and what are the results? Tak-
ing successive hundreds of cases, Sir Spencer Wells's percentage of
mortality has decreased steadily from thirty-four per cent to eleven
per cent. In 1,000 operations he has saved TOO women from the grave
and added a net gain of 17,880 years to human life, to say nothing of
the happiness of the thousands related to them by ties of friendship
and of blood — a proud boast indeed !
Since then, others have reduced the percentage of deaths after
ovariotomy to three in the hundred ; and Martin, of Berlin, has lost
but one patient from blood-poisoning in his last 130 cases.
It can not be claimed, of course, as to all this wonderful history of
abdominal surgery — and remember that in 1862, when I was a medical
student, I heard ovariotomists denounced from a professor's chair as-
murderers ! — that experiments upon animals have done the whole
work. No one man, no one series of experiments has sufficed, and
* " Medical News," February 14, 1885.
f Wells, "Ovarian and Uterine Tumors,"' 1*82, p. 197.
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 9
experiment alone would not have done it. But had such experiments
not been made on animals, as to the peritonaeum, the pedicle, the su-
tures, the ligatures, etc., we should he far behind where we now are,
and still be ignorantly sacrificing human life and causing human suf-
But to return to America. The first condition to successful treat-
ment is an accurate knowledge of what any disease is — its cause and
its course — then we may guide it, and in due time, it may be, cure it.
Before Dr. H. C. Wood's* accurate experiments on the effects of
heat on animals, the nature and effects of sunstroke were almost mat-
ters of mere conjecture. Every one had his own theory, and the treat-
ment was equally varied. Even the heat-effects of fever itself — the
commonest of all symptoms of disease — were ill understood. Wood
exposed animals to temperatures of 120° to 130° Fahr. and studied the
effects. These experiments have often been alluded to as "baking
animals alive." You will note that the heat was no greater than that
to which laborers are frequently exposed in our hot summer-days,
when working in the sun or in man}' industrial works. His experi-
ments shov/ed that the effects of sunstroke — or, as he happily termed
it, Thermic or heat fever, a scientific name now widely adopted — were
solely due to the heat, death following from coagulation of the muscu-
lar structure of the heart, or by its effects on the brain. They ex-
plained also many of the phenomena of ordinary fever as the result of
heat alone. They have established the rational and now generally-
adopted treatment of sunstroke by reduction of the body-tempera-
ture ; and the same method is now beginning to be appreciated and
employed in ordinary fever, f
The same observer, with Dr. Formad, has made important experi-
ments on the nature of diphtheria, and when we learn, as we probably
soon shall, how to deal w r ith the microscopic forms of life which seem
to be its cause, it will not be too much to hope that we may be able
to cope far more successfully with a disease now desolating so many
In India alone twenty thousand human beings die annually from
snake-bite, J and as yet no antidote has been discovered. How can we
search intelligently for an antidote until we know accurately the effects
of the poison ? This can not be studied on man ; we must resort to
animals, or else let the holocaust go on. Accordingly, Dr. T. Lauder
Brunton began such a series of experiments in London, but was
stopped by the stringent anti-vivisection laws there in force. But Drs.
* Wood, "Thermic Fever or Sunstroke," Philadelphia, 18*72.
f Eighteen out of Wood's experiments were on the general effects of heat, as above
alluded to. In six others the local effects of heat (135° to 190° Fahr.) on the brain, and
in four others the local effects (up to 140° Fahr.) on the nerves were studied and gave
most valuable results, entirely and evidently unattainable on man.
\ Fayrer, '■ Thanatophidia of India," p. 32.
10 OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
Weir Mitchell and Reichert,* in this city, have recently undertaken
experiments on cobra and rattlesnake venom, the cobra-poison being
furnished, be it observed, by the British Government, whose own laws
have prevented investigations for the benefit of its own subjects ! The
results are as yet only partly made known, but they have been brill-
iantly successful in showing that there are two poisons in such venom,
each of which has been isolated and its effects studied. The first step
has been taken — the poison is known. Who will raise a finger to stop
progress toward the second — the antidote ? Can the sacrifice of a few
score of animals each year in such research weigh for a moment
against the continuous annual sacrifice of twenty thousand human
beings ? f
The modern history of anaesthetics is also of interest. To say
nothing of ether and chloroform, whose safer use Bert has investi-
gated in France, nor of cocaine, to which I have already alluded, let
us see what experiments on animals have shown us as to bromide of
ethyl — an anaesthetic lately revived in surgery. Its revival has quickly
been followed by its abandonment on account of the frequent sacrifice
of human life — that is to say, experiments on human beings have
proved it to be deadly. Now, Dr. H. C. Wood, \ soon after its reintro-
duction, made a study of its effects on animals, and showed its physio-
logical dangers. Had his warniugs been heeded, not a few human
lives would have been saved.
The ideal anaesthetic, that will abolish pain without abolishing con-
sciousness, and do so without danger, is yet to be found. Cocaine is
our nearest approach to it. Now, in all fairness and common sense,
would it be real kindness or real cruelty to obstruct the search for
such an anaesthetic — a search which will surely be rewarded by suc-
cess, but which, if not carried on by experiments on animals, must be
tried by deadly experiments upon man, or else be hopelessly given
In 1869 I was called to see a man suffering to the last degree from
an abscess in the loin. I recognized the fact that it arose from the
kidney, but I was powerless. All that I could do was to mitigate, and
• * " Medical News," April 2S, 1883.
f I am permitted by Rev. R. M. Luther, of this city, to state the following fact in
illustration of the practical value of vivisection in snake-bite: When a missionary in
Burmah, he and his brother-in-law, Rev. Mr. Vinton (two missionary viviscctionists !), made
a number of experiments to discover an antidote to the poison of the "brown viper" — a
snake but little less venomous than the cobra. They found a substance which is an
antidote in about sixty per cent of the cases if applied at once. Thah Mway, one of their
native preachers, when bitten by the brown viper, had some of this antidote with him,
and by its use his life was saved when on the verge of death. This one life saved has
been the means of leading, it is estimated, two thousand Karens to embrace Christianity.
Was not this one life worth all the dogs used in the experiments — to make no mention of
the many other lives that will be saved in all the future ?
% "Philadelphia Medical Times," April 24, 1SS0.
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 11
that, alas ! but little, his pitiless sufferings till death came to his relief,
after nearly a year of untold agony. I have never forgotten his suf-
ferings, nor the sharp pain I felt when I learned, two years later, how
I might possibly have saved his life. In the very same year (1869),
Simon, of Heidelberg,* had a woman under his care suffering from
urinary fistuhe from a healthy kidney — a surgical accident he in
vain tried to heal. That she could live with one kidney had the other
gradually been disabled by disease was probable, for one such diseased
kidney had been already removed three times when mistaken for
ovarian disease ; and physiologists had often removed one or both
kidneys in animals. But no one had removed a healthy kidney, and
then studied the effects on the remaining kidney and upon the heart ;
no one had tested what was the best method of reaching the kidney,
whether by the abdomen or the loin, or how to deal with its capsule,
or the haemorrhage, or the surgical after-effects. Of course, Simon
could have tried the experiment on his patient, blindly trusting to
Providence for the result. But he chose the wiser course. He studied
the previous literature, experimented on a number of dogs and watched
the points above noted, tried various methods of operating upon the
dead body, and, after weighing all the pros and cons, deliberately cut
down upon the kidney of his patient after a carefully formulated
plan, not by the abdomen, but through the loin, and saved her life.
She died in 1877, after eight years of healthy life, free from her loath-
Now, what have been the results of these experiments upon a few
dogs ? One hundred and ninety-eight times the kidney has been re-
moved, and 105 human lives have been saved ; 83 times abscesses in
the kidney have been opened, and 66 lives saved ; 17 times stones
have been removed from the kidney without a single death — or, in all,
in the last fifteen years, 298 operations, and 188 human lives saved.
Besides this, as an extension of the operation in 17 cases, in which the
kidney, having no such attachments as ought to anchor it in place,
was floating loosely in the abdomen and a source of severe pain, it
has been cut down upon and sewed fast in its proper place ; and all of
these patients but one recovered.
Looking to the future, when not hundreds but thousands of hu-
man beings will enjoy the benefits of these operations, and in increasing
percentages of recoveries, are not the sufferings inflicted on these few
dogs amply justified as in the highest sense kind and humane ? f
Not long since Dr. Ferrier, of London, was prosecuted for the
alleged performance of certain experiments on the brains of the lower
animals. With Fritsch, Hitzig, Goltz, Yeo, and others, he had de-
stroyed or galvanized certain limited areas of the brain (and it must
* Simon, " Chirurgie der Nieren," 18*71, preface.
-J- Very erroneous views prevail as to the sufferings of animals from experiments upon
12 OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
not be forgotten that the brain is wholly without the sense of pain) r
and so determined the exact nervous centers for certain limited groups
of muscles. As a result of their labors, the brain is now mapped out
with reasonable accuracy, so that, given certain hitherto ill-undsrstood
or obscure localized symptoms, we can now say that there is certainly
a tumor, an abscess, or other disease in precisely this or that locality.
True, we can doubtfully infer somewhat of the same from the cruel
experiments of disease on man. But Nature's experiments are rarely
ever limited in area or uncomplicated ; they are never systematic and
exhaustive ; it takes years to collect a fair number of her clumsy ex-
periments, and the knowledge is diffused through many minds instead
of being centered in one that will systematize the results.
Said Ferrier, a year ago, in the Marshall Hail oration, " There are
already signs that we are within measurable distance of the successful
treatment by surgery of some of the most distressing and otherwise
hopeless forms of intra-cranial disease, which will vie with the splen-
did achievements of abdominal surgery."
Note the fulfillment ! Last fall, within a year of the foregoing
prophecy, a man, aged twenty-five, entered the London Hospital for
Epilejjsy and Paralysis.* From the symptoms, which I need not de-
tail, Dr. Hughes Bennett, basing his conclusions on Ferrier's experi-
ments, diagnosticated a tumor of small size on the surface of the
brain, involving the center of motion for the muscles of the hand.
On November 15, 1884, at his instance, Mr. Godlee trephined the
skull over the selected spot, and a quarter of an inch below the surface
of the brain found a tumor as big as a walnut, and removed it. For
three weeks the man did well, but died on the twenty-eighth day from
blood-poisoning, such as might follow any operation, especially a new
one. Macewen, of Glasgow, f has similarly trephined a woman, the vic-
tim of slow paralysis of body and mind, and opened an abscess a little
distance below the surface, letting out two teaspoonf uls of jms, and
followed by entire mental and physical recovery.
By these experiments and operations a wide door is open to sur-
gery in the treatment of diseases within the skull — diseases heretofore
so obscure and uncertain that we have hardly dared to attack them..
The question is not whether death or recovery followed in these par-
them. Many persons suppose that " vivisection " means deliberate " cutting up " of an
animal, little by little, till not enough is left to live. So far is this from the truth, that
Professor Gerald Yeo, from the actual reports of vivisectionists in England ("Fortnightly
Review," March, 1S82), estimates that of cne hundred such experiments, there arc:
Absolutely painless 75
As painful as vaccination 20
As painful as the healing of a wound 4
As painful as a surgical operation , 1
* "Medical News," January 17, 1885. \ Ibid., January 3, 1885.
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 13
ticular cases. The great, the startling, the encouraging fact is that,,
thanks to these experiments, we can now, with well-nigh absolute cer-
tainty, diagnosticate, and with the greatest accuracy locate such dis-
eases, and therefore reach them by operation, and treat them success-
fully. Would that I had been born twenty-five years later, that I
might enjoy with you the full luxury of such magnificent life-saving,,
health-giving discoveries !
It is, however, by the experimental study of the effects of minute
organisms — microbes, as they are now called — that some of the latest
and most remarkable results have been achieved. The labors of Koch,
Pasteur, Klein, Cheyne, Tommasi-Crudeli, Wood, Formad, Sternberg,
and others, are now known even to the daily press. Let us see what
they have done.
It is but three years since Koch announced that consumption was
caused by the "bacillus tuberculosis." Later he has studied cholera
and found the "comma-bacillus," to which he ascribes that dreaded
disease. In spite of the opposition of prominent scientists, his views
have been in general accepted, and seem to be reasonable.
The method of experiment is simple, though difficult. The sus-
pected expectoration or discharge is placed in a suitable soil, and after
cultivation some of this growth is placed in another culture-soil, and
so on till generation after generation is produced, the violence of the
poison being modified by each culture. A small portion of any one of
these cultivres is then injected under the skin of a mouse or other ani-
mal, and in time it dies or is killed, and the results are verified by the
So exact is the knowledge in tuberculosis now that Koch can pre-
dict almost to an hour when the mouse will die of consumption, or that
it will escape, according to the culture used.
It is far too early as yet to say that these studies have borne the
immense practical fruit that the next few years will show ; but they
have already enabled us to recognize by the mici-oscope doubtful cases
of consumption in their earlier and more remediable stages, and have
made certain what has hitherto been only a probability — that consump-
tion is distinctly contagious.
By Gerlach's experiments on animals with the milk from tuber-
cular cows, also, it has been shown that consumption may be con-
tracted from such milk. How important this conclusion is, in so
universal an article of food to young and old, I need not do aught
The experiments of Wood and Formad on diphtheria I have already
alluded to. Those of Tommasi-Crudeli also have shown that probably
the poison of malaria is due to like organisms, while a large number of
other diseases are being similarly investigated.
As to cholera, the classic experiments of Thiersch, in 1853,* are well
* John Simon, "Proceedings International Medical Congress," London, 1SS1.
14 OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
known. He inoculated fifty-six mice with cholera-discharges. Of
these, forty-four sickened and fourteen died from choleraic diseases.
In the same year two water companies in London experimented on
500,000 human beings, one of them inoculating its patrons with chol-
■era-discharges through its impure water-supply. This one sickened
thousands and killed 3,476 human beings, most of whom might have
■escaped had the lessons of Thiersch's fourteen mice been heeded. To
ask the question, which was the more cruel, is to answer it.*
At present our strenuous efforts are all in one direction — viz., to
study these microbes by the microscope, by clinical observation, and
by experiments on animals, in order to find out their origin, causes,
growth, and effects, and to discover by what means their deadly re-
sults may be avoided, or by what remedies, without harm to the patient,
they may themselves be destroyed. Evidently these studies can not
be tried on our patients. They must either be tried on animals or be
The inoculation experiments of modern times have recently borne
rich fruit in still another pestilential disease — yellow fever — wdiose
ravages in this country are fresh in our minds. November 10, 1884,
M. Bouley reported to the Paris Academy of Sciences f that, since 1880,
M. Freire, of Rio Janeiro, had experimented on Guinea-pigs with the
virus of yellow fever, and believed that he had been able to produce
such attenuation of the virus that by vaccination he could secure im-
munity from this dreadful scourge. Following the experiments, he and
Rabourgeon tested the results on themselves, some students of medi-
cine, and employes. Later the Emperor Dom Pedro authorized two
hundred wharf-laborers to be inoculated. All these, after a three
days' mild attack, remained free from the pestilence, while their fel-
low-laborers, similarly exj)osed to the fever, were dying on every hand.
If, in an epidemic, this still prove true, as there seems every proba-
bility it will, from the five hundred lives already saved, we can hardly
estimate either the medical or the commercial advantages to this coun-
try alone. Is this cruelty ? Let Norfolk, and Memphis, and Pensa-
-cola, and New Orleans answer.
We are all familiar now with the numerous deaths from eating
pork infested with trichina. While I was in Beidin, in 1865-'66, a ter-
* The population supplied by the Southwark and Yauxkall Company, in the epidemic
of 18tS-'49, died at the rate of US in each 10,000, and, in that of 1853-'54, at the rate
-of 130 per 10,000. Those supplied by the Lambeth Company died in 1848-'49 at the
rate of 125 per 10,000, but having improved its water supply meantime, the death-rate,
in 1S53-'51, fell to 37 per 10,000.
If Thiersch lived in England to-day, he would have to take out a license to kill his
fourteen mice in the interests of humanity — a license possibly refused, or only to be
•obtained after the most vexatious delays. But any house-maid might torture and kill
them with arsenic or phosphorus, or Thiersch might give them to a favorite terrier with-
out the slightest interference, provided only it be not for a scientific or a humane object!
f "Medical News," November 29, 18S4.
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 15
rible epidemic of the then new disease broke out at Hedersleben, a
small town in Prussian Saxony. I well remember with what zeal Vir-
chow and his assistants immediately investigated the disease, inocu-
lated animals with the parasitic worm, studied its natural history,
found out that heat killed it, and to-day, as a result of these and other
experiments, we all know how to avert its dangers by proper cooking,
or to avoid it altogether by the microscope. The value of these ex-
periments, both to human life and to commerce, you know even from
the daily papers.
You will find it difficult to make the non-medical public understand
— nay, you yourselves as yet hardly understand — the enormous ad-
vance in medicine and surgery brought about by recent researches on
inflammation, and by the use of antiseptics. My own professional life
only covers twenty -three years, yet in that time I have seen our knowl-
edge of inflammation wholly changed, and the practice of surgery so
revolutionized that what would have been impossible audacity in 1862
has become ordinary practice in 1885.
It would seem that so old a process as inflammation would long ago
have been known through and through, and that nothing new could
be adduced. In 1851, however, Claude-Bernard, by a slight operation,
divided the sympathetic nerve in a rabbit's neck and showed its influ-
ence on the caliber of the blood-vessels. In 1858 Virchow published
his "Cellular Pathology." In 1867 Cohnheim (Virchow's "Archiv")
published his studies on the part that the blood-cells played in inflam-
mation as shown in the frog, followed by further papers by Dr. Nor-
ris, of this city, Strieker, Von Recklinghausen, Waldeyer, and many
others. Already in my lectures I have pointed out to you in detail the
advances made by these studies, both in theory and practice. They
have brought about an entire reinvestigation of disease, and given us
wholly new knowledge as to abscesses, ulceration, gangrene, the or-
ganization of clots in wounds, and after operations and ligature of
blood-vessels for aneurism, as to thrombosis, and embolism, and paral-
ysis, and apoplexy, and a score of other diseases through the diagnosis
and treatment of which now runs the silver thread of knowledge in-
stead of ignorance.
With this the brilliant results of the antiseptic system have joined
to give us a new surgery. Sir Joseph Lister, to whom we chiefly owe
this knowledge, has done more to save human life and diminish human
suffering than any other man of the last fifty years. Had he only
made practicable the use of animal ligatures, it would have been an
untold boon, the value of which can only be appreciated by doctors ;
but he has done far more, he has founded a new system of surgery.
We may reject the spray and carbolic acid, but the surgical world,
regardless of details, with few exceptions follows the principles upon
which his method is founded and humanity is the gainer, by the nearly
total abolition of inflammation, suppuration, secondary haemorrhage,
16 OUE RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION.
Moocl-poisoning, gangrene, and erysipelas, as sequels of accidents and
operations ; by the practicable relief from suffering and death, by op-
erations formerly impossible ; by rendering amputations and compound
fractures safe and simple instead of deadly. Reflect on what each one
of these brief but momentous statements means !
But we have by no means reached perfection. Lister himself, no
tyro, but the great master, is still searching for further improvements.
But when lately he desired to make some experiments on animals, still
further to perfect our practice, so many obstructions were thrown in
his way in England that he was driven to Toulouse to pursue his hu-
I bad intended also to speak of many other practical benefits to
man directly, but can only mention such important matters as the sur-
gery of the thyroid gland, the seat of goitre ; the surgery of the lungs,
part of which have been removed ; the surgery of the nerves, removal
of the entire larynx, the remarkable researches of late years as to the
periosteum in the reproduction of new bone after removal of dead or
diseased bone ; Bernard's important observations as to diabetes ;
Brown-Sequard's experiments on epilepsy, the modern extraordinary
advance in nearly all the diseases of the nervous system, and a
number of other discoveries, as to all of which experiments upon
animals have added largely to our knowledge, and therefore to our
means of diminishing suffering and saving human life. For many
of these, as well as for the most judicial discussion of the vivisec-
tion question I have yet seen, I must refer you to that remark-
able book, "•Physiological Cruelty," written, not by a man, but a
I had also intended to refer in detail to the splendid results of vivi-
section in relieving the sufferings of animals, and in preventing enor-
mous pecuniary loss to man. We are only beginning to see that vivi-
section is as humane to animal life and suffering as it is to human, and
that for financial reasons as well as humane motives it is of the utmost
importance to the State that such diseases as cattle-plague, splenic
fever, chicken-cholera, swine-plague, and others, should be eradicated.
Vivisection has shown us how this may be done, and has so conferred
upon animals too the boon of life and health. For all this, however, I
must refer you to the recent admirable lecture by Professor Robert
Meade Smith, of the University of Pennsylvania. f
One subject, however, is so recent and of such interest, both to
man and animals, that I must not pass it over — I mean that justly-
dreaded disease hydrophobia. Thanks to vivisection, its abolition in
the near future seems no longer to be a matter of doubt.
Within the last three years Pasteur has announced that, by passing
the virus through the monkey, he has been able to protect dogs from
* Sec also the just issued " Life and Labors of Pasteur."
f Reprinted from the ''Therapeutic Gazette," November, lS8-i.
OUR RECENT DEBTS TO VIVISECTION. 17
hydrophobia by vaccination with this weakened virus. The French
Government recently appointed an eminent scientific commission to
report on the alleged discovery.* Pasteur furnished them with 23 vac-
cinated dogs. These 23, and 19 others unprotected, were all inoculated
from rabid animals. Of the 19 unprotected, 14 died. Of the 23 pro-
tected dogs, one died of diarrhoea, and all the others escaped. It has
yet to be tried on a man suffering from hydrophobia, but, should our
reasonable hopes be realized, what a boon it will be !
With this brief summary of a few of the recent practical benefits
from vivisection, I must .close. I have given you only ascertained
facts for your future use in the communities in which you may settle.
They may assist you in forming public sentiment on a basis of fact, of
reason, and of common sense. The sentiments of our own profession,
so constantly and so conspicuously humane, are always against inflict-
ing pain ; but if in yielding to sentiment we actually increase disease,
and pain, and death, both among animals and men, our aversion to
present pain is both unwise and actually cruel.
In conclusion, let me wish you the greatest success in your profes-
sional life, and the richest blessings of our kind heavenly Father.
* " Medical News," August 30, 1884.
*««£ ua. cmg!i UBi
OOL '-ECT l c.M
W WB WEB, cew^ OT;